I should stop and take a picture of this some morning, but I'll try to describe it, and you tell me what you think. Right around the corner from work there is a house with a deck attached to the rear. It's a fairly high deck, and the thing you might notice about it is that the owner, for his or her own reasons, has propped up one end of the deck with a 2 x 4.
That's right. I guess someone felt some dipping or swaying at that end of the deck one day when the entire family was out there grilling and saluting Uncle Albert for his birthday. So the owner says, "Ah! I'll get a 2 x 4 and stick that underneath of the wobbly end of the deck. That oughta solve it!"
I could be wrong, and I sure hope I am. It could be that the pillars supporting the deck are strong and unyielding, their mighty beams glistening in the noonday sun like the giant arms of an NFL lineman, and they just added the 2 x 4 because they wanted a place to make little notches to measure the growing heights of the twins, Ernest and Abel.
On the other hand, if we hear a story on the news that begins, "What began as a day of family fun ended in mayhem today as the deck of a North Baltimore home collapsed during a cookout..." then we'll know what happened.
Not to be pedantic, but wooden beams can only take so much stress. I see parties of what appears to be dozens of people on decks, porches and balconies, and I think of the awful consequences of an overload.
Here is a picture of another clever use of a 2 x 4 - until the crutch tip dry-rots and falls away and the 2 x 4 gives way and someone gets clomped on the melon by a window air conditioner. More ersatz repair jobs available at this site.
Play it smart, be my advice. Have things professionally maintained.